What is your purpose? We’ve heard this question bantered about for quite some time, especially as it relates to business. Without a clear purpose, how do you know what products you will manufacture or who your target audience is? How will you know how to lead your team through the bumps and bruises of daily business operations?
As I work closely with purpose-driven companies, it’s clear to see they are embracing this concept not just as a one-time exercise, but a way to do business every day. Plus, it’s not just the CEO’s who are on board, but entire teams who are looking to support the cause in their individual roles.
Step 1: Ask the Right Questions
Identifying your business purpose and accompanying vision, mission, and values begins with asking some questions. These questions can be in the form of face-to-face meetings, a short survey, or a balanced combination of both. The goal is to find out from each of your constituents how they feel about the company, its current state, and its plans for the future.
Most of my clients utilize a combination of detailed surveys, face-to-face meetings, and facilitated workshops. Surveys are typically deployed to internal team members, while customer interviews secure the balance of the information. Engaged employees and satisfied customers have to be at the center of this exercise.
Step 2: Decipher the Data
Survey responses and qualitative data are compiled, analyzed, and then summarized. The end result is that there should be a few key themes that rise to the top that will serve as the foundation for a future mission statement. For example, does the data point to stellar customer service or outstanding communications between your team and their clients? Perhaps your product or service is the key differentiator.
Whatever the data points to, an important next step is to communicate the results to your team in order to land on those key points that will drive your mission, vision, and values going forward. While there may be a temptation to “be all things to all people,”, this can cause confusion to employees, clients, and future nonprofit partners.
Step 3: Discover Your Company’s Mission
With informed data in hand, it’s time to meet with the teams. While the leadership team is always welcome to attend these meetings, it’s recommended that they simply set the stage at the onset, and leave the rest to the facilitator. This is the best way to secure feedback that is open, honest, and unbiased.
As I facilitate these sessions, I have seen previously quiet employees speak up and traditionally outspoken employees begin to listen to the conversations around the tables. Inevitably, everyone leaves with a sense of ownership in the process. It is this ownership that will drive team members to commit to the company vision on a daily basis.
Step 4: Select a Social Impact Partner
A singular purpose, backed with a vision for the future will be the catalyst that brings about business success. This success, when shared with a thoughtfully-chosen social impact cause or partner, has the power for your business to make a real difference.
With so many nonprofit organizations to choose from, how do you know which is right for you? At its simplest, look for a partner who can benefit from the products or services you offer. Another may be to align with a partner who complements your industry. For example, if you are in the business of manufacturing, perhaps you select a partner who can benefit from your overruns.
The process of identifying your business’ vision, mission, and values is filled with many discoveries – many of which may come from sources you did not expect. However, once the process is completed, the real work comes as you strive to implement on a daily basis. In order to be an authentic company, driven by purpose, your vision must meld into everyday business operations. Then and only then can you see it come alive for employees, customers, and your community.